Thursday 14 December 2017

South Park: The Fractured But Whole ★★★★☆

Just like life, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is all about a great pussy conspiracy and ends up being one long fart joke. Set the morning after South Park: The Stick of Truth ends, you're still the same New Kid that lets his arse do all the talking. Cartman's realised that he's losing his epic larping fantasy game and conveniently switches it to Superheroes, with the ex machina of a missing cat named scrambles. Cartman plans to find the cat and use the $100 reward money to start his own superhero, "Coon and Friends", franchise. Things just escalate from there. The change in game, that the kids are playing, strips you of the fantasy world status that you've acquired and forces you to start building your new superhero persona, from scratch. I thought this was a clever way of handling your sudden lack of power. I've seen games make a complete mess when trying to explain why you're suddenly powerless in the sequel.

The Coon (Eric Cartman) sits you down, in the Coon Cave, to help you realise your potential. You pick what class you wish to play as. Initially, you only have three to pick from, Brutalist, close range, and power punches. Speedster, basically the Flash and Blaster is your magic powers type. By the end of the game, there are ten classes, in total, and you can pick and mix the ones you want.

Fighting has been changed to a grid-based combat system, along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. Personally, I preferred the turn based, straight up Paper Mario rip off, combat system of the first game. While the grid does make it more involved, it also slowed the pace of the fights. Clothes no longer give stat boosts, so it doesn't matter what you wear and you're not forced to wear a dorky hat just because it gives you some extra strength bonus.

Like most RPG’s there are a lot of little systems and menus that sort of seem overwhelming, but the game introduces them to you quite slowly and explains everything as you go. You loot draws and cupboards for crafting items and The Amazing Butthole will leave them all open after. A bit like a certain someone I know.  If anything, the game holds your hand a bit too much. You're never stuck as for where to go or what you need to do next.

As you'd expect from South Park, there's a lot of social commentary. Some of it being quite subtle, like everyone in the game is always glued to their dependable phone. NPC's and even Fart-Lord, if left alone for two seconds, will pull out their smartphone to distract themselves from the world around them. (Ironic, as I'm writing this on my phone...). At the start of the game, during the character creator, There is no option for male or female, that's subjectively down to how you identify yourself. You pick your skin tone with an emphasis on its effects on the game's difficulty. Cartman states "It’s alright, this doesn’t affect combat, just every other aspect of your life". Over the course of the game, it makes a big point on filling out your character sheet. What you identify as in terms of Gender and Sexuality, your Race and Ethnicity (of which British/English isn't an option).

Ultimately, I figure as a commentary on real life or at least as it should be, none of this makes any real difference to the game, despite how it's propositioned. You might get a slight variation on some dialogue, but that's about it. The game never seems to try stepping over the line as much as the last game did. Aside from a dodgy lap-dancing mini-game near the start, the rest of the game is fairly tame... at least by South Park standards.


Bry Wyatt

South Park: The Fractured But Whole at CeX

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